On Thursday, environmental and labor activists again urged the Port Authority to reject a $432 million cargo hub proposed by Amazon for Newark Liberty International Airport, saying the online retail giant had a worrying record of workplace injuries in its warehouses.
Port Authority Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole called the statistics “revealing” but did not say how they might affect the proposal. The agency, which owns the airport, will have an answer in “a month or two,” O’Toole said.
According to a new report, workers at Amazon’s 53 facilities in New Jersey suffered 1,605 workplace injuries, 1,386 of which were severe enough to miss work or be placed on restricted duty.
The report says Amazon warehouse workers experience injuries “nearly twice the injury rate among all other warehouse workers in 2021.”
Amazon injuries accounted for 55% of all serious workplace injuries in 2021, according to the report, which cites data from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The state has seen a surge in warehouses due to the coronavirus-fueled e-commerce boom, with Amazon leading the pack.
The report was prepared by Rutgers Labor Professor Carmen Martino and New Jersey Policy Perspective Research Director Nicole Rodriguez.
Amazon did not comment on the report, but said it spent $300 million to improve security at its facilities in 2021.
State lawmakers slammed Amazon over the report, and Rep. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, accused Amazon on Twitter to “put profits before safety”.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced in August that it was entering into a 20-year lease with Amazon Air, the company’s private air cargo service that delivers its packages.
Court case:Maplewood child suffered ’emotional harm’ when her hijab was removed by teacher, lawsuit says
The agreement calls for an initial lease payment of $150 million, followed by $157 million over the term of the lease. Amazon is set to invest $125 million to redevelop and renovate two buildings on airport property into a state-of-the-art cargo service facility.
The deal provides for the creation of 1,000 jobs at the airport, according to the port authority, and a ‘good faith’ assurance of 20% minority-owned and 10% business ownership owned by women in all airport improvements and renovations. facilities as well as the contractors and sub-contractors involved in the operation of the new freight hub.
“They don’t offer good jobs,” Newark resident Courtney Brown said at Thursday’s meeting. “The money they offer is very little, it’s not enough to really live on.”
Brown, who said she works at Amazon, said most workers’ jobs “tend to have a lot of injuries,” whether it’s serious injuries in the workplace or conditions at work. long term like tendonitis.
She was joined by several members of Make the Road New Jersey, an immigrant and labor rights group that organized opposition to the project.
Warehouse boom in New Jersey:Warehouses, distribution centers are popping up all over North Jersey. Here’s where and why
Make the Road said they organized against the project because minority and poor communities, unionized workers and people living in Newark near the airport and industrial parks had not had a chance to weigh in. on the project before its announcement in August.
Newark’s South Neighborhood, a low-income, predominantly Black and Latino community, will bear the brunt of air emissions from trucks and planes, which could have disastrous effects on health and quality of life, James Jones said. , a local resident and community organizer.
Kevin Brown, state director of the SEIU 32BJ airport workers’ union, said in an October statement that he was concerned about how the agreement would affect union members working at the two facilities that will be rented from Amazon.
The union is concerned about the future of these workers, who could lose the protections available to them under the Healthy Terminals Act, signed into law last year by Gov. Phil Murphy, Brown said.
Amazon has not commented on this story, but said in a statement last October that it strives “to be a good neighbor, and we are continually working with local community leaders, elected officials, community partners, neighbors and other stakeholders to address any issues and concerns are heard and addressed to better serve our customers and communities.